Art by Nermine Hammam
“Lynn” is Executively Produced by KRIKOS for the album “Sufi in the West”.
Listen to the single below:
Art by Nermine Hammam
“Lynn” is Executively Produced by KRIKOS for the album “Sufi in the West”.
Listen to the single below:
Art by Nermine Hammam
Executively Produced by KRIKOS
Presented by Colours of the Culture
Cultural relativism and constructivism are two theories, one sociological the other political, that help us understand international politics from a different perspective.
We challenge the idea of absolutes but we also accept the traditions which develop over time as part of human social culture, or constructs.
There are elements of all philosophy, from realism and liberalism, which are embraced. But ideas such as the universalism of capitalism and democracy are challenged. Furthermore, I seek to explain all global injustice as a result of the exploitation of human insecurities by global political elites. There are remote, isolated incidents of craziness, but the trend suggests that, most human suffering is caused by the decisions of political elites to disregard the cultural distinctions and sovereignty between states.
Imperial overreach is practiced by many states. But the argument here is that the culture of capitalism embraced in the West, particularly in America, in the post-20th century especially, enables the likelihood for international agendas of domination.
While hegemony and power are innate, domination and violations of sovereignty are not. While America struggles to establish its identity as leader of the free world, individuals within America wish to export this freedom to countries where religious sensitivities are prioritized over democratic values and individual rights.
Regions of the world with rich indigenous histories and religious sensitivities, like Latin America, Central & South Asia, and the Middle East, are not conducive to democracy.
In the twentieth century, communism and nazism were viewed as threats to democracy – but had neither the English nor the Americans been aggressively imperialistic, democracy itself would not have been threatened. Imperialism, the desire to expand beyond one’s natural borders, is the cause of ideological fanaticism and political instability, plain and simple.
The frequency of violence and radicalization cannot be viewed as a cause – but rather the effect of another cause – violation of sovereignty. The moral indignation, humiliation and socio-economic depravity resulting from foreign occupation causes political instability and violence to ensue.
The result is terrorism and vulnerability.
That is precisely why Islamic radicalism has become a “thing”. While it is mostly due to the media’s biased coverage, the main reason why Muslims are vulnerable to radicalization is the social and economic inequalities in the regions in which they live. These inequalities are assumed to be the direct cause of governmental shortcomings, but upon closer examination, the complicity of foreign powers, namely the US and Europe, in destabilizing the region, becomes far too apparent.
That is why petty, underdeveloped initiatives are toppling leaders are viewed with such skepticism and distrust, especially in the Middle East. These initiatives have ulterior motives, driven more by agendas of destabilization and maintaining control than by the moral motives of human rights. Such is evidenced by double-dealing from world powers like the US, Russia and Europe in the Middle East and Central Asia, funding radicals on one hand, and putting puppets into power on the other.
It becomes that much more difficult to believe that democracy will solve the problem of instability in the aforementioned regions of the world.
And attempts at spreading democracy in these regions are as mischievous as the USSR’s campaign for spreading communism. This neoconservatism is not very different.
Power is perhaps an innate feature of mankind, but war & instability is not, contrary to conventional theory in politics.
If countries are forced to contain their imperial potential, stability will ensue. But this entails tackling illusions of our history. This entails confronting the assumptions we have about international relations today.
We must learn to appreciate the West’s liberty – but the West must learn to appreciate the East’s cultural heritage.
Only through such self-reevaluation can stability be possible.
The risk posed by nuclear weapons is valid. But does this threat increase with the use of terrorism?
Terrorism is not a new phenomenon, but new technological innovations have changed the way it is conducted [Chaliand & Blin 2007]. Furthermore, terrorism is currently used to describe attacks on civilians, usually by non-state actors whereas historically it was used more to describe state-terror . This could imply that terror was more commonly practiced by states in the past. Perhaps the reason for this is the emergence of government by the people, in the form of democracy, therefore changing the relationship between civilian and state. Has democracy made civilians more vulnerable targets of warfare?
This leads to the main question being addressed – should politicians be concerned about nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists. The answer would be yes in a logical sense. American politicians are however in an odd position given that the majority of nuclear weapons in today’s world are in the hands of its allies, some of whom, like Pakistan and Israel for example, reside in the most volatile regions in the world. What would happen if this instability led to nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists?
But US policy in the regions where such a scenario is possible is arguably counterproductive in this regard. The US strategy consists of military initiatives and interventionism. For this reason, weaponry and ideology have trickled down from the US’ closest allies to fanatical groups.
Perhaps a more policy oriented approach is necessary. While President Obama has not necessarily avoided military deployment – comparatively, he has shown reluctance [Indyk et al 2012].
This approach is arguably more effective. The fear of the threat of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorism wouldn’t really exist had it not been for bad US foreign policy, but more importantly, the threat itself doesn’t exist anymore than any other threat. Tackling it should be about preventing its likelihood in the long-run. This means reconsidering policies and allies in regions like the Middle East, and South Asia [Obama 2007].
Chaliand, Gérard, and Arnaud Blin. The history of terrorism: from antiquity to al Qaeda. Univ of California Press, 2007.
Indyk, Martin S., Kenneth G. Lieberthal, and Michael E. O’Hanlon. “Scoring Obama’s Foreign Policy.” Foreign Affairs 91.3 (2012): 29-43.
Obama, Barack. “Renewing american leadership.” Foreign Affairs 86.4 (2007): 2-16.
The assumption towards the Middle East, and many parts of the world outside Western civilization, such as Latin America and Central Asia, is that there is an even dichotomy between citizens supporting or opposing authoritarian regimes. But the reality is less simple.
Arab citizens understand that, democracy can only unfold when two crucial changes take place, which cannot take place separately. This complicates things because generally, especially in Western media, it is assumed that freedom is an excuse for avoiding responsibility. What I mean is, America, the leader of the free world and its followers, are equally responsible for authoritarianism in the Middle East as the authoritarians themselves. Whether fascist, communist, Islamist, or a mixture of all three, it doesn’t change that American interventionism since WWII has caused this imbalance. Initially, this led me to question democracy altogether, until I noticed the consequence which meant supporting authoritarianism. But I soon realized that democracy itself, is an end which has yet to be reached, even in the West, where simple rights are not universally extended, and economies are riddled with inequality.
America, the leader of the free world, is in more accurate terms; leader of the freer world. Until America takes fuller strides towards democracy at home, it won’t be able to contain the ambitions of its elite, which has grown detached from society and all-too powerful. Since WWII, this elite has engaged in imperial overstretch. I argue that, for stability to ensue in the Middle East, two things must happen: First, America has to reverse its interventionist policy – perhaps not entirely; but violations of sovereignty under so-called pretenses of security must end. Second, Arab governments must institute political and economic competition, and a socially acceptable degree of freedom. This may or may not be exactly democratic – but a step towards freedom it surely is. The implications of this assertion are that two entities are at fault – American corporate elite; for engineering modern imperialism and Arab authoritarianism. What this means is, petty attempts to overthrow Arab leaders won’t solve the problem, which is why Iraq, Afghanistan & Libya remain failures. The real solution may not necessarily mean less bloodshed – but it will actually have direction and dignity because it will be a product of sovereign movements, and not foreign agendas with ulterior motives. This scenario could however also lead to genuine reforms and justice, and possibly less lives lost.
The legacy of Arab authoritarianism is a continuation of American capitalism, a primitive tribal ideology of white supremacist origin, to be frank. Liberty, dignity and democracy, will be achieved at the demise of expansionist politics, in the Middle East and elsewhere. But oversimplified focus will lead to shortsighted decisions that seek to undermine such prospects for a better future. The problem, isn’t the head of state in the Arab world. It is the Arab world’s failure to depend on and trust itself, in the face of a two-faced hegemony indulging in political gluttony. Once it does, America can step back, and let nature take its course. America refuses to renounce the concept of Jewish apartheid in the Middle East in the face of Arab authoritarianism and Islamist fanaticism. But if America involvement in the Arab world becomes less imposing, Perhaps then Arab movements in the direction of democracy can actually succeed. In this scenario, assurances of security and transition could be offered. Violence is the product of stubborn leadership, nonetheless such movements in the Middle East would ideologically pin America against Israel, thus allowing for Palestinian justice – the crux of Middle Eastern instability, and the driving force of both Islamism and authoritarianism in the world today.
If this doesn’t speak to Sander’s blind populism or Hillary’s overt power hunger then I don’t know what does!
America is at a real turning point in its political culture.
Many ideologies are on the table.
Where are the minorities?
I like the idea that Democrats are more egalitarian than Republicans, but is Bernie’s socialism really the solution? America’s problem isn’t just economic. It is a cultural ailment; police brutality, mass-incarceration, a terribly hawkish foreign policy dominated by foreign interest-lobbies.
Bernie is super appealing. That’s why I think Larry David fit this character so well. I am not anti-Bernie Sanders, but I am yet to be pro-anybody that isn’t critical on particular issues.
In the realm of domestic politics, we need people who aren’t afraid to point out inconsistencies.
In foreign politics; we need someone who isn’t an Israeli lapdog.
Obama has given Israel the cold shoulder; but he has also given them a blanket to stay warm.
I prefer his strategy over any of the current contenders.
Republicans have nothing to offer but war, as usual.
Imagine an Arab-American president, one that understands the struggles of the minorities inside America, but isn’t all too detached from America’s foreign policy shortcomings. Let’s be frank; America’s domestic politics is completely dependent and a direct reflection of its foreign policies. Why do you think American politicians are less encouraged to bring issues of foreign policy to the attention of the American people? Because Americans would hate to associate their “freedom-loving-democracy” with carnage and evil abroad.
We need leaders who are realists; who are not daunted by America’s history.
Since Israel is more of an apartheid than a democracy, it is becoming increasingly difficult for western democracies like the US and Europe to continually vouch for the Jewish state.
The Obama Administration has certainly broken from the traditions of its predecessors and perhaps the entire tradition of American politics by even SLIGHTLY suggesting a rift in relations between the US & Israel.
The underlying reality that Israel is an unjust entity resonates with the disenfranchised communities of United States, especially the African-American population, which only 30 years ago were granted the right to vote.
Largely disenfranchised socio-economically, African-Americans make up the majority of prisoners incarcerated in the US. The reality that African-Americans were only granted the right to vote 30 years ago cannot be understated in this context. Poverty, violence and disenfranchisement produce the kinds of demographics we see in the US today, with regards to the huge discrepancy in economic equality between White and Non-White Americans. Similarly, in Israel, the Arab and Palestine population endures the same levels of injustice. This is not to diminish either sides peculiarity or suffering but rather to reveal the ties between the forces responsible for injustice in the Middle East and injustices here in the US. Our attention is constantly being diverted by the media as it portrays Americans seperately from the rest of the world, the irony being in that the US is the most heavily involved country in foreign affairs in the entire world.
Islamophobia and racism are tools of the same political forces. That is why when Netanyahu made his racist comments regarding Arab-Israeli citizens just to harbor the election victory, it comes as no surprise. Similarly, US officials and police authorities spout racist comments so as to discourage and perpetuate suppression of African-American rights.
Furthermore, Israel’s hypocrisy is revealed in Netanyahu’s pathetic post-election victory apology for his racist comments, so as to appease the Israeli “left” and the West. He did not fail to make the following comment after his so-called apology:
“I think, similarly, that no element outside the state of Israel should intervene in our democratic processes.”
Was it not Netanyahu who intervened in US politics by speaking to Congress without consulting a bi-partisan coalition?
Hypocrites. But we’re used to it.
In Part I of his interview with BBC broadcasted in 2009, prominent rapper & social icon Jay-Z expressed his views on many contentious issues gripping the politics of America & the international community today.
The photograph above is very significant to this blog entry. It is a picture of Kanye West & Jay-Z during their Watch The Throne tour throughout the US. The title of this blog, is the title of quite a meaningful song on the album: “We Made It in America”. The song laments on the grievances & legacies of the African-American people, as well as the African culture from which they were essentially kidnapped; & which continues be exploited today.
This is Part II of the interview, continued:
The song is inspiring. The message too. Not only does it expose the crimes of the US against its own people, it expresses the genius of the African people, in the realms of art, music & culture. Watch The Throne, was a political masterpiece. A magnum opus. All the words fit. I felt like I was LISTENING to Plato’s The Republic. It’s the soundtrack, if indeed The Republic were a movie.
Essentially the political undertones of Watch The Throne are echoing the socio-economic grievances of all disenfranchised, marginalized, gentrified & exploited minorities. The twisted sense of “individualism” in the Western culture justified the historic atrocity of the trans-atlantic slave-trade, which exists today in a more elusive form, such as police brutality, gentrification, disenfranchisement, mass incarceration, income inequality & unequal opportunities for minorities.
These grievances are echoed by intellectuals of the 19th & 20th century, mostly non-American. I’ve listed a few examples below.
George Orwell, famed writer of 1984 & Animal Farm, was a “democratic-socialist” who warned against capitalism & communism, arguing the two led to statism.
Albert Camus, an anarchist, was sympathetic to communism but stressed that collective apparatuses might lead to corruption and statism.
Any Rand, hailed by Conservatives, defines the epitome of the hypocritical dogma of anarchical-capitalism. A self-proclaimed anarchist, Rand proved she was not loyal to her own creed, as she relied thoroughly on state welfare & sponsorship from the state of Israel, inconsistent with her atheism as well as her free-market fundamentalism.
All these perspectives force the following questions to float around in my head:
Is socialism another power-grabber?
It seems like the US & Europe despise socialist entities.
Are we the devil or are they?
Who’s killing who?
While most fight for freedom for some, who fights for freedom for all?
So what is the evil? It seems that hyper-individualism mirrors the tyranny of hyper-collectivism, both of which result in the exploitation of minority classes.
Prominent African-American scholar Cornel West associates the suppression of Civil Rights with statism as well as capitalism. He argues that America is not a democracy, because it serves an elite class at the expense of the will of the people. Furthermore, West suggests that capitalism results in many of the imbalances in the economy that cause misery for the lower classes.
I would argue, like 20th century German economist Fredrick List, that every successful nation-state adopts mixed economics combining state intervention with free market flow, which suggests that democracy & capitalism alone cannot guarantee the protection of individual rights. In many ways, democracy has engrained & perpetuated the tradition of exclusivity in the West which deems minorities, including blacks, latinos, arabs, gays, muslims & atheists are second class citizens, with little access to mobility in the economic ladder.
Freedom, salvation & happiness are not products of capitalism, materialism or the intellectual dogma of hyper-collectivism.
Rather, these virtues are achieved through humility, hard-work & self-reliance and the rest follows. Meanwhile, the power-hungry aim to deprive man of these freedoms, through propaganda & excessive force. How well do democracy & capitalism alone ensure these virtues? Historically, they’ve done as much as communism to improve the living conditions of the lower classes.
In his recent acceptance speech at the BET Honors ceremony, Kanye West took time to reflect on issues that form the bedrock of the Hip-Hop culture. Here is a snippet:
Fundamentalists, be they religious or atheistic in essence wholly worship man-made ideologies that eventually collapse on themselves, such as the neoconservative model of hyper-capitalism exhibited by NATO countries or the police-like communism of the USSR.
The association between the American & European traditions of suppressing & exploiting foreign countries is based in their logic of exclusivity. That is why 1% of Americans own America, while the vast majority remains living check-to-check. That is why, while the institution of slavery ended some time ago, the US remains at the top of the list for highest incarceration rates in the world, with the highest prisoner count than any other in the world. Yet, Iran is the great satan. Syria is the great satan. Venezuela. We go to war for oil & that oil never trickles down to the poor. In fact, it is usually the taxpayer funding all of this, against his will for the most part.
It is times likes these when I begin to question the logic of ‘democracy.’ There isn’t even 1 single definition of democracy. It is a vague term that is thrown around. Most people think it means representative government. Some think it means majority wins. Others believe it means universal law. I would say one of the distinctive features are the electoral process & term limitations. Democracy, especially by the Right-Wing, is viewed as the protector & guaranteer of capitalism & free market competition. But in reality, it seems, like communism, only to concentrate wealth in the hands of an already established elite so as to convince the masses they are free, to sustain them for lack of self-sustenance & to thereby garner their support for all political/colonial initiatives. The free-market is not protected by democracy or capitalism, but rather, just as in communism, becomes held hostage to the ignorance of mass-minded forces of collectivism. The freedoms awarded to the elite are limited to the mass because of a fear of intimidation & competition. A lot of propaganda is aimed at trying to convince us (both capitalism & communism do this) that earth’s resources are scarce & need proper redistribution.
But “exclusivity is the new N word,” said the courageous Kanye West during his most latest interview with Zane Lowe, in reference to the culture of hubris & bigotry that has disenfranchised all minorities & expressionists from the conversation of social justice.
There is generally speaking a list of artistic works that, despite their aesthetic greatness, are either historically misrepresentative & inaccurate or merely biased in context and coverage.
Some do justice, some don’t. Perception all depends on which angle you look at the subject. I wish for justice for all, but we must recognize, expose & bring to justice those distinct forces which cause & instigate violent political crime.
Munich, Waltz with Bashir, & Exodus, viewed as biased & racist. Black & Arab culture, disenfranchised, used, exploited, hung & dried.
A more accurate depiction of reality in the Middle East in Palestinian film Paradise Now.
Another, more realistic representation of the ME in a scene from Syriana, which features George Clooney & Matt Damon.
How Hollywood & all of western media distorts reality through film & other mediums of mass mainstream expression.
This rather, light film depicts the similarities, and differences, between the Arab & Israeli people. But recognition of Israel implies two things: treachery to the Arab cause; abandoning the human rights of the Palestinian nation.
Is it unfair for the international community to suggest that the Jews are fine without a state called Israel? The difference between the need for an Armenian state, for example, versus a Jewish one, is that the former is completely ethnic-based while the latter is a hybrid of religion, culture and language. This makes it difficult to place importance on the need for a Jewish state while ignoring Palestinian self-determination.
Individuals like Helen Thomas get blacklisted for making comments such as those in the video below:
If there is a moral arc of the universe, it bends in favor of the Westerner & the lighter-skinned.
Recognize the Armenian Genocide. Grant amnesty to refugees. International repercussions, implications and issues of national boundary.
Recognize the Palestinian Genocide & end the occupation. Grant right of return. Allow Jews to remain. Encourage initiative to fight anti-semitism globally.
Relinquish ties with State of Israel.
Relinquish ties with Saudi Arabia.
Rehabilitate relationship with Iran. Establish fair oil agreement as alternative to Gulf oil. Weaken monarchism & fundamentalism in the region thereby ushering in necessary reform/change to status quo.
Expose the forces of the right-wing ideologues in all countries, as hypocritical exclusivists, war-mongers & fascists with ties to terrorism & corruption in religious institutions.
Issue significantly high tax on 1%; pump credit into lower and middle classes to create opportunities for self-investment. A limit, thereby granting opportunity and preventing abuse. The propaganda against mixed economics is extreme and irrational. I would argue that the conservative agenda, which is to horde resources, is actually politically communist, if measured along the lines of ‘control’ by the state.
Grant all American minorities, especially African-Americans, re-enfranchisement into the socio-economic scene through affirmative action. Stretch this form of amnesty to other minorities, including Latino-Americans, Armenian-Americans, etc — the voices that are disenfranchised from representation and accessibility to sustenance.
Grant amnesty and normalization of status for all immigrants in the US.
Review all criminal cases which have falsely incarcerated or have exaggerated sentences for criminals, especially minorities, which have been profiled, type-casted, and have been victims of racism, police brutality and government abuse.
Reform the justice and security enforcement systems of the US, beginning by addressing a lack of representation based on racial affiliation.
Pass laws which prohibit the broadcasting of overtly incorrect material which slanders various entities and incites violent hatred. This includes Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, etc, all who have profited off racism, hate and the encouragement of religious fascism.
Legalize marijuana. Completely. Government regulations are encouraged, as long as it does not disturb market and free-flow.
Reestablish the legitimacy of the United Nations by reaffirming its authority on global affairs. This requires rehabilitation of relationship with China, Russia, India, Iran, Brazil & South America.
Encourage mixed-economics in foreign countries that guarantee individual rights without compromising cultural values and traditions.
End apartheid globally.
Expose ties between Republican Party and foreign criminals; terrorists; dictators. End funneling of money to criminal entities.
All of these actions, manifested into legislation, would immensely improve America’s status domestically and internationally.